116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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Originally from Merida, Mexico, Ana Escalante McClain first came to the United States to work in international development in Washington, D.C.
She had no idea she would end up in the Midwest, owning a brewery.
'After spending four years managing large international projects all around the world, I decided it was time to pursue an MBA in social and sustainable business in Fort Collins, Colo.,” McClain said. 'Little did I know that I would meet the love of my life, Quinton, who was a passionate brewer with dreams of opening a brewery in his hometown, Cedar Rapids.”
Fast-forward seven years, and today McClain taps into her previous work experience as the business manager and co-owner of Lion Bridge Brewing Co. in Cedar Rapids, which she opened in 2014 with her husband, Quinton McClain.
'I take care of mostly the ‘boring,' but essential, things that keep our business in business,” she said, noting those things include the finances, taxes, accounting, compliance, licensing, human resources, marketing, business strategy and planning.
'But, Quin and I are both very much idea people and having Lion Bridge so that we can convert those ideas into a reality is a thrill to me,” she said.
While her role may be behind-the-scenes, McClain takes great pride in creating a place where the community can gather and connect.
'I love being able to provide such a unique place for our community to celebrate all of life's events,” she said. 'It really makes me proud that we have been able to create that place with our beers, our food and our space.
'And I believe we owe all of our success to our community,” she added. 'Cedar Rapids has been incredibly generous to us and to Lion Bridge, and we feel a moral obligation to ‘do our part.' I was raised to always leave a place better than when you found it, and every day we work to be better and do better, for us, and for the future generations.”
The last year has been an especially wide ride, given the pandemic, that has taught lessons in patience and joy.
'I finally realized I have very little control over anything,” she said. 'Yes, I can be a control freak, but I learned that I am a lot more resilient than I thought. You just have to keep on keeping on and try your best every day.”
'And our daughter was born in April 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and she has brought so much love and joy to our entire family.” McClain and her husband also have a young son.
McClain said being recognized with a HER Women of Achievement award was particularly meaningful, given that's she's a transplant to the area.
'Not being a Cedar Rapids native, you come in scared of not being able to find your place in a new community,” she said. 'It is incredibly humbling to have been welcomed with such open arms to this community and to be recognized for my efforts. I am incredibly grateful.”
McClain also is proud to be making waves in a male-dominated industry.
'Unfortunately, in the beer industry, there are not many women representatives,” she said. 'I feel proud that I am able to bring my voice - and the voice of my demographic - to the table. ... Women drink beer and buy beer, and, unfortunately, even though we are in 2021, a lot of times beer is often marketed with a single lens for a white, adult male. I am trying to change that.”
Her advice to other women looking to make their mark in whatever field they pursue?
'Follow your dreams, pivot fast, learn from mistakes and keep growing,” McClain said. 'When you put your heart and soul into something you truly believe in, it will show, and you will shine.”
Once a month, Business 380 spotlights some of HER magazine's Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.